Emma Watson Pussy
War And Peace
a certain effect; but Helene, tortured by
the fact that the old count suspected her and that her husband to whom
she had written (that wretched, profligate Pierre) had not replied,
had suddenly taken a very large dose of the drug, and had died in
agony before assistance could be rendered her. It was said that Prince
Vasili and the old count had turned upon the Italian, but the latter
had produced such letters from the unfortunate deceased that they
had immediately let the matter drop.
Talk in general centered round three melancholy facts: the Emperors
lack of news, the loss of Kutuzov, and the death of Helene.
On the third day after Kutuzovs report a country gentleman
arrived from Moscow, and news of the surrender of Moscow to the French
spread through the whole town. This was terrible! What a position
for the Emperor to be in! Kutuzov was a traitor, and Prince Vasili
during the visits of condolence paid to him on the occasion of his
daughters death said of Kutuzov, whom he had formerly praised (it was
excusable for him in his grief to forget what he had said), that it
was impossible to expect anything else from a blind and depraved old
"I only wonder that the fate of Russia could have been entrusted
to such a man."
As long as this news remained unofficial it was possible to doubt
it, but the next day the following communication was received from
Prince Kutuzovs adjutant has brought me a letter in which he
demands police officers to guide the army to the Ryazan road. He
writes that he is regretfully abandoning Moscow. Sire! Kutuzovs
action decides the fate of the capital and of your empire! Russia will
shudder to learn of the abandonment of the city in which her greatness
is centered and in which lie the ashes of your ancestors! I shall
follow the army. I have had everything removed, and it only remains
for me to weep over the fate of my fatherland.
On receiving this dispatch the Emperor sent Prince Volkonski to
Kutuzov with the following rescript:
Prince Michael Ilarionovich! Since the twenty-ninth of August I have
received no communication from you, yet on the first of September I
received from the commander in chief of Moscow, via Yaroslavl, the sad
news that you, with the army, have decided to abandon Moscow. You
can yourself imagine the effect this news has had on me, and your
silence increases my astonishment. I am sending this by
Adjutant-General Prince Volkonski, to hear from you the situation of
the army and the reasons that have induced you to take this melancholy
Nine days after the abandonment of Moscow, a messenger from
Kutuzov reached Petersburg with the official announcement of that
event. This messenger was Michaud, a Frenchman who did not know
Russian, but who was quoique etranger, russe de coeur et dame,* as he
said of himself.
*Though a foreigner, Russian in heart and soul.
The Emperor at once received this messenger in his study at the
palace on Stone Island. Michaud, who had never seen Moscow before
the campaign and who did not know Russian, yet felt deeply moved (as
he wrote) when he appeared before notre tres gracieux souverain*
with the news of the burning of Moscow, dont les flammes eclairaient
*Our most gracious sovereign.
* Whose flames illumined his route.
Though the source of M. Michauds chagrin must have been different
from that which caused Russians to grieve, he had such a sad face when
shown into the Emperors study that the latter at once asked:
"Have you brought me sad news, Colonel?"
"Very sad, sire," replied Michaud, lowering his eyes with a sigh.
"The abandonment of Moscow."
"Have they surrendered my ancient capital without a battle?" asked
the Emperor quickly, his face suddenly flushing.
Michaud respectfully delivered the message Kutuzov had entrusted
to him, which was that it had been impossible to fight before
Moscow, and that as the only remaining choice was between losing the
army as well as Moscow, or losing Moscow alone, the field marshal
had to choose the latter.
The Emperor listened in silence, not looking at Michaud.
"Has the enemy entered the city?" he asked.
"Yes, sire, and Moscow is now in ashes. I left it all in flames,"
replied Michaud in a decided tone, but glancing at the Emperor he
was frightened by what he had done.
The Emperor began to breathe heavily and rapidly, his lower lip
trembled, and tears instantly appeared in his fine blue eyes.
But this lasted only a moment. He suddenly frowned,
War And Peace page 561 War And Peace page 563